Norwegian Prescription Database
On this webpage you will find information about the Norwegian Prescription Database (NorPD), guidance on how to get access to data from the NorPD, as well as information on the delivery of data.
NorPD contains a complete listing of all prescription drugs dispensed by pharmacies in Norway since 2004. Drugs supplied to hospitals and nursing homes are also partly included, but not at an individual level. The database also contains information about prescription of drugs to animals.
All the pharmacies in Norway register prescriptions electronically, and the information is sent in monthly reports to NorPD (via Statistics Norway). The patient’s personal ID number and the prescribers ID number are replaced by a unique pseudonym by Statistics Norway. This makes it possible to link drug use to individuals without knowing their identity.
Personal information is not disclosed from the NorPD. The database is governed by the national regulation of 17 October 2003 about the collection and processing of health data in the Norwegian Prescription Database (see below).
Aim of the NorPD (Regulation § 1-3)
The legal basis for the NorPD is the Regulation “Forskrift om innsamling og behandling av helseopplysninger i Reseptbasert legemiddelregister (Reseptregisteret)”. The aims of the NorPD are described in § 1-3; To collect and process data on drug consumption by humans and animals to:
- Describe drug use patterns, highlighting changes over time.
- Promote and facilitate research and reviews of the safety and effectiveness of the drug use.
- Serve as a management tool for the authorities in order to ensure prescribing quality in addition to general surveillance, control and planning.
- Give the prescribers a basis for internal control, as part of an audit method to improve the quality of prescribing practices.
Use and delivery of data from the NorPD is evaluated according to the aims listed above.
Access to data from the Norwegian Prescription Database
The NorPD has its own website with data on dispensed drugs in Norway. On this website it is possible to create reports on the number of users of a particular drug or drug group. The data can be split by sex, age and geography. The database only contains information about drugs dispensed by prescription. Over-the counter drugs bought from a pharmacy or grocery store are not included.
Application for access to data
If an application is legitimate and justified, the NorPD may disclose more detailed information for research, management and planning, or other purposes that are consistent with the NorPD Regulation § 1-3. The application must contain a description of the aim of the project. All applications regarding data from the NorPD are evaluated by a group consisting of experts from several disciplines (pharmacy, pharmacoepidemiology, statistics and law).
Types of data that may be disclosed on application
Statistical data (tables)
Application for access to statistical data (aggregated data) on drug consumption is relevant in cases where the desired information cannot be derived from http://www.norpd.no/. A precise description of the data needed must be included in the application, including metrics, time period, drugs (ATC code) etc. An empty table (shell table) showing the desired table layout (with only row and column names) should be attached. Statistical data from the NorPD are generally presented in excel format.
Research data (“research file”)
In a research file, each drug dispensed to each individual is presented by one row. A completed list of needed variables from the NorPD must be attached to the application (see below). It is important to only apply for variables that are necessary and justified by the research project's purpose. Data from the NorPD is generally delivered as a txt.file delimited by semicolon. For linkage of data from multiple health registries (including NorPD) or other data sources, the applicant should also choose the application form 'Application for access to data’.
Links to other data sources
Data from the NorPD can be linked with data from other National health registries and other data sources (based on personal ID number), provided necessary legal permissions have been granted.
It is important that applicants only apply for variables that are necessary and relevant according to the project objectives. This also applies to variables from other registries that will be linked with the NorPD.
Legal requirements for the delivery of data (only NorPD)
Various legal permissions can be required when applying for data from the NorPD. Disclosure of anonymous data does normally not require any special legal permission. When applying for disclosure of information about the birth month and/or municipality, NorPD will require that the applicant notifies the Data Protection Officer at the institution where the applicant is located, or the Norwegian Data Inspectorate.
Legal requirements for the delivery of linked data from NorPD with other data sources
Data from the NorPD can be linked with data from other statutory health registries defined by the Health Register Act § 11 ref. the NorPD regulation § 5-3 first paragraph. A notification regarding the project must be sent to the Data Protection Officer at the institution where the applicant holds or to the Data Inspectorate. It is also recommended to get an ethical evaluation of the project by the Regional Ethics Committee (REC).
Linkage of data from the NorPD and other data sources than the statutory health registries requires a license from the Data Inspectorate, ref. the NorPD Regulation § 5-3 second paragraph. In the absence of consent from the study population, a confidentiality exemption from REC is also required. It is also recommended to get an ethical evaluation of the project by the Regional Ethics Committee (REC).
Please note that the NorPD will not disclose data that can lead to identification of individuals via the variables, ref. the NorPD Regulation § 5-3 first paragraph. If the applicant has requested many variables from the NorPD it can be problematic to link with other registries that contain detailed information about individuals. It is therefore important that the applicant only requests variables that are relevant for the research project’s purpose. This applies both to variables from the NorPD and to variables requested from other data sources to be linked with NorPD.
The NorPD has a 30 days delivery deadline for non-linked data and 60 days delivery deadline for linked data, counting from the date when all questions are clarified by the applicant, all data from other sources are available for the NorPD and all necessary legal permissions have been granted.
Currently the cost of obtaining data from the NorPD is NOK 875 per hour’s work, excluding VAT.
According to Norwegian legislation, a decision about data delivery can be challenged. Any complaints should be sent to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. If the institute does not respond satisfactorily, the appeal can be sent further to the Ministry of Health and Care Services for a final decision.
All publications and presentations that use data from the Norwegian Prescription Database must refer to it as the source.
If acronyms or abbreviations are required, please refer to NorPD (in both English and Norwegian).
All publications should include "The Norwegian Prescription Database" in the title or abstract text to highlight the register in PubMed searches.